New KU VC: Search committee to interact with shortlisted candidates today

Former varsity head Talat Ahmad frontrunner

The search committee constituted to look for a new vice-chancellor for the Kashmir University (KU) will interact with the shortlisted candidates on Monday to pave way for the final selection to the coveted position.

A source told Greater Kashmir that at least seven candidates from within and outside the state have been shortlisted and shall interact with the search committee at New Delhi’s Jamia Hamdard University. The search committee is headed by Prof DP Agarwal, former chairman of the Union Public Service Commission while Prof Vijay Gupta, former vice-chancellor of Sharda University and Prof Ehtisham Hasnain, vice-chancellor Jamia Hamdard University are its two members.

Among the shortlisted candidates, Prof Talat Ahmad, the incumbent vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia and former vice chancellor of Kashmir University, is presumed to be the frontrunner for the prestigious position in the backdrop of allegations that the post was re-advertised with the revised age bar of 65 years (on the date of filing of applications) to facilitate his return to the university. Talat was ineligible as per the previous advertisement notification that put the age bar at 62 years.

Talat headed KU from 2012 to 2014. He was given a three-year extension, six months ahead of the completion of his first term, but was soon appointed as the vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia for next five years. His term at the Jamia is ending in the middle of 2019. Talat’s exit from the University of Kashmir, soon after the incumbent Governor NN Vohra granted him a full three-year extension, had come in for severe criticism from university teachers, forcing the former chief minister Omar Abdullah to remark that “we wanted to retain him but he left for greener pastures.”

A group of senior KU professors said that Talat did not apply for the post of KU vice chancellor but has been nominated to the position and has been called for the 9 July interaction with the search committee. Other confirmed shortlisted candidates in the panel are Prof Mushtaq A Kaw, former dean college development council and former director Centre of Central Asian Studies, University of Kashmir, Dr Shahid Rasool, former director EMMRC, University of Kashmir, Prof Syed Hussain Jafri, Department of History, University of Delhi and Dr Sher Ali, professor, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Basic Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Reports suggest that Prof AM Shah, former dean Academic Affairs and former Controller Examination, University of Kashmir and Prof NA Nadeem, professor of Education at Central University of Kashmir have also been called for the interview. However this couldn’t be confirmed independently. 

Prof Kaw is presently heading history department at Maulana Abul Kalam Azad National Urdu University, Telengana Hyderabad, while Dr Shahid Rasool is presently on deputation to Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) as its director. Prof Shah is presently serving Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora.

After Monday’s interaction in New Delhi, the search committee shall submit a panel of three names to the university’s chancellor (Governor NN Vohra) for the final selection. The chancellor is ideally supposed to take a final decision in consultation with the pro chancellor (the chief minister), but in absence of the elected government in the state at the moment, he is expected to decide the matter on his own “within a week or so”, a top source said.

The hunt for new KU Vice Chancellor began in October 2017 when the three-year tenure of its incumbent vice chancellor Prof Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi ended. Andrabi however filed a petition seeking five-year term in accordance with the amendments made in the University Act wherein the term of the vice-chancellor has been fixed as five years. The court however rejected the petition saying it cannot be given a retrospective effect.